NY and NJ lawmakers press Ryan on Gateway project funding

NY and NJ lawmakers press Ryan on Gateway project funding
© Greg Nash

A group of Republican lawmakers from New York and New Jersey met with Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? The Pelosi administration It's not populism that's killing America's democracy MORE (R-Wis.) on Wednesday to emphasize the importance of a multibillion-dollar rail project the Trump administration has backed away from in recent months.

Rep. Leonard LanceLeonard LanceGun debate to shape 2020 races GOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Bottom Line MORE (R-N.J.) said he asked for the meeting, which comes as a vote on the upcoming omnibus spending bill appears to move to next week. Reps. Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingJohn Kerry: GOP lawmaker against coronavirus package 'tested positive for being an ---hole' Lawmakers highlight flights back to DC for huge coronavirus vote Trump flexes pardon power with high-profile clemencies MORE (R-N.Y.), Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinSanders: 'Unfair to simply say everything is bad' in Cuba under Castro Trump allies blast Romney over impeachment vote: 'A sore loser' Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Democrats seek to preempt Trump message on health care | E-cigarette executives set for grilling | Dems urge emergency funding for coronavirus MORE (R-N.Y.), Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.), Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithLawmakers propose waiving travel fees for coronavirus evacuations abroad Cheese, wine importers reeling from Trump trade fight House approves pro-union labor bill MORE (R-N.J.), Tom MacArthurThomas (Tom) Charles MacArthurRepublicans plot comeback in New Jersey Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (R-N.J.), Frank LoBiondoFrank Alo LoBiondoStimulus price tag of .2T falls way short, some experts say Democratic challenger on Van Drew's party switch: 'He betrayed our community' Trump announces Van Drew will become a Republican in Oval Office meeting MORE (R-N.J.) and John FasoJohn James FasoThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads MORE (R-N.Y.) also participated.

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“The president has indicated that he might veto it,” Lance told reporters. “But Paul Ryan has no problem with Gateway funding.”

The Gateway project, a series of rail programs aimed at rebuilding passenger rail connection under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey, has been a sticking point in ongoing negotiations over the spending bill ahead of a March 23 deadline.

The White House last week threatened to veto the legislation if it includes $900 million in funding for the project. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation said it opposes financing Gateway in the impending omnibus, but does not have an issue with the project itself.

Lance told The Hill that it's "unclear" why the president is opposed to funding the project in the omnibus, but said he believes it's part of a "dispute" between Trump and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Schumer doubles down in call for Trump to name coronavirus supply czar Trump lashes out at Schumer over call for supply czar MORE (D-N.Y.).

"I think Sen. Schumer should move on some of the appointments the president has made to fill his own administration,” Lance said.

He also argued that a spending bill stripped of Gateway funding won't pass the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim 51-seat majority but will need 60 votes to pass the omnibus.

New York and New Jersey lawmakers have pressed Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic Critics blast Trump mileage rollback, citing environment and health concerns Trump administration rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards MORE over the project this month as she appears in front of multiple congressional committees to testify about the Trump administration’s infrastructure proposal.

Chao argues New York and New Jersey should put up more money for the project, which the states hope to fund using government loans like Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF). 

Schumer, Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats urge administration to automatically issue coronavirus checks to more people Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus Politicians mourn the death of Bill Withers MORE (D-N.J.), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in 2015 announced they had reached a deal with the Obama administration in which the federal government would fund half of the project.

But the Trump administration in recent months has taken a different approach, with the Federal Transit Administration denying the presence of an agreement for the federal government to split the cost with the two states. The Transportation Department also withdrew from the program’s board last summer.

Despite the Trump administration’s pushback on the project's funding, Lance said he “hope[s] and expect[s] that it continues to be in the bill." 

“This was not a meeting with the White House. This was a meeting where we explained our position to Speaker Ryan,” Lance said.